Ashlan Cousteau, Co-Founder SeaWeed Naturals
1) What is your proudest accomplishment in the cannabis industry?
Seeing our brand SeaWeed Naturals come to life has been one of the most exciting accomplishments in my career. Every decision from the packing and sourcing to our charitable giveback was made with intention and with the ocean in mind. Not only do I believe that SeaWeed Naturals can make the world a better place, for people and the planet, I am also proud of the intentionality that went into the creation of the company and how we run it. I believe that business is a powerful tool for positive change but only if we found companies based on a belief that they must be forces for good. That has to be the bar, and if we can’t create a company that leaves the world better, than we shouldn’t start it in the first place. That MUST be the future of commerce and I believe that SeaWeed Naturals is an example of that vision and that makes me immensely proud.
2) Do you feel that the cannabis industry has more opportunities for female-identifying people than other industries?
There is no doubt that every industry (not to mention politics) is still lacking female leadership and equal opportunities. Currently, according to the United Nations, we only have 26 women that are Heads of State or Government world-wide, less than 20% of the world’s landholders are women and women and girls make up 60% of people around the globe who are chronically hungry…just to name a few. We have an incredible opportunity in this still young and quickly growing industry to pave the way for women and all historically neglected communities. Doing so would not only create a more just society, it would help to tap into the extraordinary skills and talents of millions of people that are currently overlooked. Talent is distributed equally, but opportunity is not. Until we balance that equation, our society will never reach its potential.
3) Do you feel you have to work twice as hard as male colleagues or do you think the industry has moved past that?
I think as women, we put constant pressure on ourselves to work harder, be better and go the extra mile all the time. I have certainly encountered my fair share of bias and sexism in the workplace in my previous career but I do believe that we are making progress and that there is more opportunity than ever…not enough, but more.
4) What was your biggest challenge in business and how did you overcome it?
Coming from an entertainment/journalism background it has been a learning experience about how to balance the books, develop marketing plans, understand supply chains etc. But that is what makes it fun, the challenge of learning new things. If it were easy, as they say, everyone would be doing it. It’s that challenge that keeps me going.
5) What have you or your company done to help give more opportunities for women?
We are a majority female owned company, that is operated by mostly women and our lead investor is female. We will continue to seek out women, BIPOC and LGTQ+ investors, growers, dispensaries and partners in all areas of our business as we believe SeaWeed Naturals is a way to create opportunity, provide sustainable jobs, change people’s lives, and better the planet.
6) What are your personal goals for 2022?
I want to continue to grow the business and bring the power of cannabis and the ocean to more people. And be a great mom to my two little girls and wife to my sweet husband. It’s a lot to juggle and I don’t always get the balance right but as we always say, adventure is where you lead a full life, and the greatest adventure is fighting for a better world.